We stopped at a bar on the way to dinner. Daniel has been wanting his friends and I to meet for quite some time and I thought it was the perfect occasion before I go to L.A. this coming week. I wasn’t feeling so fancy today so I only slicked my hair back in a ponytail, added long, thin-chained, silver earing (gold just doesn’t suit me), paired a white shirt with black pleather pants, and an expensive leather jacket my mom got me for my nineteenth. Still fits. I thought over time it’d wear out, or I’d grow too big for it, but it didn’t. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t the only thing that stayed, but the memory of my parents and the fact that I hadn’t called them in a looooooong time.
“You have to visit them while you’re there,” Daniel told me as we walked the short distance on the sidewalk, holding hands.
I avoided his gaze and stared at the asphalt. “I know.”
“No, seriously. I know divorce is hard. I mean, I know that it can be, but you have to see them and talk to them. It’s not good bottling up all these emotions.”
“I don’t have any emotions,” I mumbled begrudgingly.
“Just see them,” he said, listing his hands, one of which lifted my own, “just saying.”
“Is it important to you that much?” I smiled, leaning closer.
Daniel shrugged and pulled me in at the waist to land a kiss on my forehead. “It’s important to me that you keep some kind of relationship with them. A healthy one. They’re not like my father, they’re not Richard. You’re lucky, you have two Jades that love you.”
That last line made my heart clench. I was about to tell Daniel that I will definitely see my parents when I go down to L.A when I realised I still felt split, and still on the considering stage. So I remained quiet. I didn’t want to lie to him but I also didn’t want to lie to myself. But he’s right, they’re my parents, I love them, I just…it’s just…I never thought it to be possible that they’d split, and seeing that possibility manifest itself in my mom and dad, two people I love very much, is excruciating. And I’m the ‘suffer in silence’ type of girl. Until I’m opposite Dr. Shaw. At $100 a pop, she’s going to listen what I have to dish out.
From afar, after locating Daniel’s friends, I noticed that they looked familiar. I passed it off as a result of distance until I came closer and closer. The girl stood up first, while the guys were talking, switched off upon realisation, and then followed suit with the girl.
“Hey Daniel!” the girl chimed. Her cheeks full for such a skinny girl. Narrow nose, almond-shaped eyes and long, wavy, brown hair.
“Anna, this is Valerie,” he gestured.
Even the name is familiar. “Hi,” I took her outstretched hand and shook, “how are you?”
“And this is Ian and Rick,” Daniel gestured between the other two guys.
Ian is super-white, with the type of red lips only a man that kept licking and grazing it with his teeth would have. The lips were thick, his hair coiffed into a suave crop, brown, and standing tall. I noticed he didn’t close his mouth once. I wondered if he could breathe through his nose. He wore a round neck dark blue shirt and beige chinos.
Rick wore a large beard, long but groomed. Dark, brown hair that came up to his shoulders and slicked back into a tiny ponytail. He looked like part of an indie rock band. Or one that anyone would imagine stereotypically.
There were two other guys (John and Campbell) and one other girl (Lisa). I hadn’t paid much attention to them since I was so fixated on trying to figure out where I’d seen Valerie, Ian and Rick.
As the night carried on, I was chatting to Lisa more so than anyone else. She’s bubbly and cheery and a girl I can see myself easily becoming friends with. And I did. We exchanged numbers a half hour into our conversation. I’m ready to have her baby!
But at the back of my mind, I was trying to figure out the puzzle of Valerie, Ian and Rick. When Lisa ended up excusing herself to go to the bathroom—and we weren’t exactly there yet in the relationship for me to be like, ‘oh, yeah, I’ll come with!’ so excitedly—I was left alone with Valerie since somehow Daniel moved over to the other side nearer to the guys. He was so into the conversation, he didn’t even notice I was alone, next to Valerie, who was totally giving me the cold shoulder.
Eventually, Valerie ‘noticed’ me and turned her entire body to face me. Her tanned legs were crossed one over the other, and she leaned in with her elbow on her knee, and her hand under her chin.
“First time I met you,” she started, “you were sooooo furious at Daniel.”
I narrowed my eyes and tilted my head. “Umm, when?”
She nudged me. “Don’t pretend you don’t know.”
I hated it when people, a complete stranger in particular, thought I was immediately pretending like I can fake on command. “I legit don’t know.”
“When you came up to Daniel and said—” she did bunny fingers, up and down— “you guys were friends.”
“Oh,” I said. It was starting to come back to me.
I was dancing with Paul, in a club, and Daniel and I were furious at each other. Eventually, I saw him having the time of his life, all drunk off his ass, across the club and with his friends, Ian, Rick and Valerie. One of which (I think it was Rick) was trying to stifle his laugh at me.
“No hard feelings, huh?” Valerie said, nudging me again, this time out of my thoughts and back onto her.
“Oh, no not at all.” I stopped short and then furrowed my brows. “No hard feelings about what?”
“You know,” she shrugged and wriggled her brows. “About Daniel. And me.”
A blinked, cartoony. “You and Daniel what?”
“Hey, I get it. Some girls can’t take that their boyfriends are more comfortable with their friends. You’re handling it pretty well actually. I’d be sad that my own boyfriend can’t have fun with me. I mean, the sheer amount of hesitation he has with you.”
I was silenced. By confusion or aggravation or a combination, I didn’t know what. Either way, I wasn’t liking this girl.
“He tells you everything?” I asked.
“Like I said,” she shrugged again, “don’t take it to heart. And don’t worry about Rick and Ian. They’re just laughing because they think, you know, you’re so retarded or something. But not fully, you know?”
“Not fully?” I asked, almost in a monotone.
She nodded ecstatically and smiled. “You’re cool. Handling this so well. Most girls would go apeshit by now at something like that. What’s your secret?”
“Well if I told you, I’d want to kill you.”
She laughed raucously, a little too loudly, just for show. “I think you mean ‘you’d have to’ not that ‘you’d want to’,” she laughed again, turning away, “silly girl.”
“I’m back!” Lisa said, sitting beside me and bumping hips. “Oops,” she giggled, “sorry. Hey, what’s wrong?”
I pointed behind me, to Valerie, with my thumb and without looking. “Who is this bitch?”
“Oh, Valerie?” Lisa shrugged. “She’s a shit-stirrer. You kind of have to get used to her bite.”
“I don’t mind the bite,” I said, “the bitch, however…” I lifted my brow and cocked my head to one side.
Lisa giggled. “It’s better to make friends than enemies with her. Trust me,” she sighed, “I speak from personal experience.”
It’s official. Except for Lisa and the other guys I barely spoke to, I don’t like Daniel’s friends.
We had to cab it for most of the way to the restaurant. We would have ran a bit late if we were running, but I figured we were just in time. I figured right.
The hostess showed us to our seats and I grabbed whatever I could on the menu, but like Bon Qui Qui says, ‘don’t go crazy!’, I didn’t. The waiter could barely hear us over the music that was blaring. We had drinks beforehand either way so I wasn’t entirely hungry.
Midway, I started busting though, and I was shaking my legs in my seat while Daniel wanted to suck all the information out about my take on his friends as much as he could.
“So…what do you think?” I asked smoothly, an expectant smile playfully set on his lips.
“I love Lisa. We’re hanging out as soon as I get back.”
“That’s great! What about the rest of them.”
I paused. “I love Lisa. We’re hanging out as soon as I—”
“Naww,” Daniel groaned. “What was bad about the other guys? I saw you and Valerie getting long.”
“You call that getting along?”
“I really wanted you to like them. They’re my friends,” he shrugged. “The friends I have here in New York. I just really wish you gave them a chance. Maybe first impressions aren’t all that correct.”
As much as I’m not looking forward to revisiting the psyche ward, he did have a point. But there was just something off about Valerie that I couldn’t quite put into words. I was just about to say that when my mind was beginning to cry for help by the fullness of my bladder.
“I’ll be back,” I said to Daniel.
“What?” he asked disappointedly.
“We’re finishing this conversation, I swear. I just really have to pee.”
“Oh,” he smiled. “Sure, babe.”
“I’ll see you.”
I rushed to the toilets with as much finesse as a creepy stalker, passing tables and hoping no one could see the sheer nervousness I was exuding. The more I walked the more I didn’t need to pee and it felt easier to contain. A friend of mine even told me that if you run or walk in haste, it’ll be easier to manage. I don’t exactly know why, but it’s true.
I opened the door of the bathroom and immediately slipped and crashed landed onto the floor. The door breathed to a close and I looked down and noticed water. I was drenched.
Then I heard heavy breathing.
Voices, both women. “Breathe, just breathe.”
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” she hyperventilated.
I followed the trail of water to a pregnant woman on the floor and a woman next to her.
“She’s pregnant!” the woman with the pixie cut said. Her hand holding the pregnant woman’s own, the woman sweating and inflated.
“What?” I asked.
I looked down at the water and tried hiding the disgust. Just ignore it, Anna! I tried standing up but kept slipping and inadvertently soaking myself more.
“Call the ambulance,” pixie cut yelled at me.
“My phone is at my table,” I said, continuing to try and get up.
Pixie cut shoved a hand into her pocket and pulled out her phone. I looked away and back in time to see her phone coming straight at me face in full force. “Call them using my—oh my—!”
The phone smashed my nose, a sudden clog and then sharpness wracking my brain and knocking me back. I felt my top teeth ache and my nose run. Droplets of blood began running out. The door behind me pushed open, and the person ceased opening it when they knocked the door into my back.
“Oh my God!” the girl shrieked. “I’m so so sorry. Are you okay!?”
“She’s fine!” the pregnant woman huffed out. “Call the ambulance!”
This is not how I imagined my last few nights to go down.